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July 02, 2008


Grant, while feminists and humanists share overlapping goals, they are two different communities. Also, there are entire streams of feminist thought that have little to do with humanism -- including some that I would characterize as genuinely "anti-anything-but-females". I'm not sure how much of the rest of your comment is addressed to me, so I'll stop here.

The decline in rape might be more attributable to whatever causes the general drop in crime rather than something more specific.

The whole male privilege checklist looks like a cudgel fashioned to beat men around the head with.

It is, of course, misplaced, as is all social engineering, since those that the victim-hood sisterhood would target simply find new ways to compete for and strive for social status.

Males compete for and strive for social status because that is what many females desire in a mate (because it is a proxy for very good genes and an ability to provide), and given that there is very good evidence that some 50% of males never pass their genes to the next generation, there is a very strong filtering function ensuring that males will and do strive for social status. And since women can just lay back and enjoy their privilege, is it any wonder that they are not even in the game for the most part.

There are, of course subtleties, such as, just as not all men are equally worthwhile partners, neither are all women equally worthwhile. However, the variance in males is much larger than it is in females.

the term "feminist" often comes off as being "anti-anything-but-females"

Hm. I don't hear that connotation. That sounds like saying the term "vegetarian" implies one who eats only vegetables (when most vegetarians also eat dairy, eggs, nuts, chocolate, etc.). Humanists aren't "anti-anything-but-humans" are they?

Grant, the reason people keep linking to "Feminism 101" is because your questions have likely been answered there.

loki on the run, might it be possible that "the whole male privilege checklist" is based on actual grievances with the state of things? Is there something that which you particularly disagree with--do you think there's nothing there worth bringing to your attention? Did you not notice the "privilege is not your fault" bit linked to in previous comments? Is that what led you to not address the substance of the list and declare it a "cudgel" used to "beat men"? (In using that metaphor, by the way, you're invoking a surprisingly common trope.)

I haven't looked at either privilege list yet. But, if "claiming sexism" isn't on the women's privilege list and "breaking it down" isn't on the men's privilege list, then the lists are missing something. As for valuing them... You need more than simple arithmetic. Both of these are like 0/0. You need a limit theorem, and you need to know how the curve gets there.

All that said, while "breaking it down" is a powerful privilege, I don't think it quite trumps "claiming sexism". Women will always win this discussion. Men will always lose. Ironic, huh?

Robin Hanson:
It is not obviously bad to have a society where different kinds of people face different choices, but inequality across those choice sets seems more obviously bad.

Yes it is bad, but that's not saying much. If you have a zero-sum way of shifting the playing field, knowing who has the advantage is relevant to deciding which way to push it, but instead you should look for positive sum changes.

For example, people sometimes argue about whether birth control helps men or women more. If you believe that it helps both, it's irrelevant which it helps more. (and it may be good without being Pareto)

This argument does not rule out cash transfers (taxes), but public choice, etc., make me think it also a bad idea.

This argument does not rule out cash transfers (taxes), but public choice, etc., make me think it also a bad idea.

Why? If you assume that choice sets can be directly compared (as Robin does in his original post), you do not lose any generality by putting monetary valuations on them. Then resource transfers (taxes, etc.) can address equity concerns in an especially efficient way, while leaving any positive-sum changes unconstrained. Could you elaborate on your public choice concerns?

Thanks for the link, which seems to have provoked a mini-tsunami of further linkage and traffic. We've had more than three times as mmany page views in a single day than our previous record, and about ten times as much as on an average day, almost all of it due to bloggers hat tipping you for the link to us.

Following up on my earlier post, feminists could engage in a multi-generational effort to produce more equal average outcomes between the sexes by reducing the larger variance in reproductive success that males experience compared with females.

However, that would require that females dispense sexual favors to men equally and without regard to the status of the males or the consequences to their offspring. This seems unlikely to ever happen.

Obligatory full disclosure. I have been married for more than 20 years and have three offspring, all female. DNA tests that I required before I sprung for tuition have revealed that they are my offspring (and thus I now have the same confidence in paternity that my spouse has in her maternity) so I would not benefit from this proposal.

Rape is a great unfairness and cruelty of life. It is male privilege which says "suck it up honey, and deal with the likelyhood of it happening to you".

I'm paraphrasing several jerks in this thread. Yes, I noticed you are a jerk.

" I have been married for more than 20 years and have three offspring, all female. DNA tests that I required before I sprung for tuition have revealed that they are my offspring"

Hilarious juxtposition of sentences, loki.

Being lied to about the paternity of your alleged offspring is a great unfairness of life and it is female privilege to say "suck it up dude and pay me child support for the child that is not yours because you did not think to ask for a DNA test."

Hey, m Andrea, I have never ever thought of raping a woman and regard children as sacred (but not my responsibility if they did not come from my sperm). I resent your implication that I am responsible for any rapists out there.

It is easy to avoid rapists.

Grant, they call themselves Feminists because when it comes down to it, they want power the power to drag those who are 'privileged' down.

It isn't about equality.

If it were about equality then feminists, neo-marxists, cultural study theorists, and the rest of the postmodern/poststructuralist crowd would make their political point from a politically neutral base and try to pull minorities up to 'privileged' positions.

They don't do this. They take the reverse position and try pull the privileged down. Why else would they make endless guilt-riden lists of 'woe is me' and make out that being 'privileged' is something to be 'aware' of and something 'privileged' people should personally curb? Are not many of the privileged positions good things for EVERYONE to have? Shouldn't EVERYONE be privileged? Instead we have to settle for second best: Non-privileges for everyone (overlooking the highly ironic position of said cultural theorists who privilege their own opinions over any other social criticism or organisation).

Like Eliezer said, it leaves a dirty taste in your mouth.

Its necessary to determine which sex is more disadvantaged because its essentially impossible to pursue societal change that benefits both sexes equally. You need to know which sex is more disadvantaged so that you can focus on the right reforms and not passively make society more unjust. The bulk of the horrible things feminists do and have done are to take situations where both sexes have problems, deal selective with those affecting women, and then produce situations that only disadvantage men.

If someone wanted a society with absolute gender equality (a goal of debatable merit), they would do exactly what Robert Hanson says, figure out which sex is more disadvantaged, work selectively for that sex until theres a broad balance, and then work for both sexes equally.

And, as an aside, theres very little reason to think that men ought to have shorter life expectancies. Theres absolutely no reason to believe that women naturally live longer, its well established that men have lived longer than women for the vast majority of human existence and in the vast majority of societies.

m Andrea: Rape is a great unfairness and cruelty of life. It is male privilege which says "suck it up honey, and deal with the likelyhood of it happening to you". I'm paraphrasing several jerks in this thread. Yes, I noticed you are a jerk.

It would be good if you indicated who you are actually arguing against.

I've gone through this thread looking for what you might be referring to. Admittedly, I've just had four shots of Wyborowa, so I might not be at most observant right now. But the only posts that used the word "rape" were:

Eliezer explaining that not being raped shouldn't be a privilege but rather a basic standard of living for all.

Kaj Sotala agreeing that it should be, but noting that it wasn't.

Caledonian saying that the odds of being raped were a function of "psychological and physiological factors that are not under society's control".

Cyan saying that rape rates were falling and that social change was having a positive effect in this area.

Caledonian saying that equalizing the odds of getting raped for both sexes is not a step in the process of eliminating rape.

Cyan agreeing.

TGGP saying that the decline in rape might be a result of a general decline in crime.

My admittedly hasty search has also failed to find any other posts that implicitly mentioned rape. So, who are you paraphrasing, please? Of all these posts, Caledonian's first seems most likely to be interpreted in your way, but it's still an extremely uncharitable, nay, deliberately hostile interpretation.

First of all, Robin, a rather belated thanks for the link to my 'female privilege checklist' post; it sparked a fair bit of traffic to Feminist Critics and seems to have spurred a number of blog discussions on the topic.

I did want to clear up a few misconceptions that some commenters here seem to have formed from reading that checklist. Cyan said, "The irony of the female privilege checklist linked above is that it is presented as as part of an argument against feminism ..." It may surprise Cyan to learn that I am in fact a feminist myself (with caveats) and completely agree with the ostensible goal of (some) feminists to eliminate gender penalties for both sexes.

I say "ostensible" because it's been my experience in the feminist blogosphere that the awareness among most feminists about the extent of male 'disprivilege' is rather extraordinarily low, and far lower than the awareness that many feminists think they have, which was one of the reasons I compiled the 'female privilege checklist' in the first place. It was not my intent to prove that 'men have it worse', only that it isn't self-evident that women have it worse. Indeed, though I suspect your suggestion that, "The next obvious step is to assign point values to such privileges, so we can add them up and compare totals," was a tad tongue-in-cheek, the suggestion is a not-unreasonable rejoinder to many feminists who assert that women (only) are oppressed and men (only) are privileged without providing the requisite theoretical argument demonstrating that this is so.

Having written my own Female Privilege List (and thanks for the link!), and having debated the merits of the male and female lists, I decided that the next step was to write a list of the privileges that would be gained if either the male or female list "won". Here it is - the Victim Privilege List

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